John O'Leary

John O'Leary

Children's author, Illustrator
Booking enquiry
John O'Leary - author tools

Available for

Workshop, Talk


Age 5 to 7, Age 7 to 11


Art, Humour, Novelty


  • Association of Illustrators
  • Islington Writers for Children
  • NAWE


What I offer


- a great deal of experience on a wide range of visual art projects

- the ability to pass on skills and unlock potential by working with children in an engaging, interactive and fun way

- a proven track record as an author, illustrator and paper engineer

Images: Putney Park School, Thomas's Primary School (Clapham), Our Lady Queen of Heaven Primary (Wandstead)

My workshops are very much hands-on, incorporating writing, illustrating, designing and constructing. I do show my books and talk about how I combine the text, pictures and paper engineering.


Because of what I do, there will be an element of pop up design. I’m very keen to demonstrate my techniques to the children and to let them have a go themselves.


I encourage the children, with my help and expertise, to come up with their own original ideas and designs, in order to produce a piece of finished work.


I'd also be very happy to incorporate topics of your choice into the workshops.


I like to work with individual classes. The number I can fit in per day will depend on the complexity of the project.


If all of this sounds like what you’re looking for, then do please get in touch.



"John facilitated a Year 6 workshop during which the children had opportunities to manipulate perspective. The results were stunning, as the children produced a series of fascinating and carefully constructed 3D models of mountain scenes. John’s approach was child-centred and engaging, supporting those children who needed extra help whilst stretching those with stronger design skills."

P Fletcher, Stroud Green Primary School, Islington


 "The children (and I) were so excited on your return to our school and we were not disappointed. All the children at all levels were fully engaged in a positive approach and able to succeed.
It was a lovely surprise that the task was completely different this time – very unexpected – and showed that a great deal of thought and planning had been used."

Angela Bettridge (Head), Cunningham Hill Infants School, St Albans


"My class was captivated by you and your books and you introduced many ideas that got them involved. The activities were perfectly suited to my age group and I appreciated the way you gave them freedom to creatively explore."

Martin Batchelor, St Agnes RC Primary School, Cricklewood


"The children made some lovely books and brought them to show the rest of the school in our assembly on Friday. We feel that your paper engineering skills brought a very exciting dimension to our week."

Sally Lawrence, St Mary’s Primary School, Bicester


"Thank you so much for your work with us. The children thoroughly enjoyed it. They have made some great pop up creations and any spare moment they have are getting coloured card to do more!. We really appreciate all your hard work planning such a visit.'"

Rowenna Maddox, Thomas's Primary School, Clapham


"John is an enthusiastic speaker and he has a wonderful manner with the children as he invites them into his world of imagination.  During class activities, he is able to tailor the lessons for the age group, fully engaging the students while keeping a steady case and an energetic environment. I've thoroughly enjoyed working with him and he has given me lots of ideas to develop pop-up books."

Lyndsey Marcu, Year 4 teacher, British International School, Budapest


 "John brought real creative flair to the museum when he devised and delivered a bespoke paper engineering workshop for us. His imagination and original skills really inspired the participants to develop creatively and confidently and his calm and measured approach created a wonderful atmosphere. Thank you John, we look forward to welcoming you back again soon! "

Eleanor Payne, Learning and Interpretation Officer, St Albans Museums


"During our school's Book Week we were privileged to have the author John O'Leary visit our school, not only to talk about some of his books and unusual profession of 'paper engineer', but also to provide a workshop to each class on how to construct a 'pop-up' mechanism. John O'Leary demonstrated the process clearly, and with good humour, making the workshop fun and the technique easy to follow and attainable, even by the most artistically-challenged of us in the class! The children in my Year 6 class were inspired by John o'Leary's own work and were amazed with the results of their handiwork, choosing to continue making their pop-up pages in their spare time, well after the workshop had finished! It was a great experience and one that the children will remember for years to come."

Louise Russell, Year 6 Teacher, British International School, Budapest

Images: British International School (Budapest), Hungerford Primary (Islington)


For the moment, I will consider schools within reasonable distance of North London



Find out more about my books on my website:


Read about previous workshops here:




DBS Enhanced Disclosure check

Public liability insurance cover (£5 million)

Event feedback

Everyone had a super day when John visited our school. The videos he sent beforehand were fun and got the children ready for the day. They all enjoyed beginning to make the pop-ups and moving parts for their books and are keen to continue and finish them. The staff commented on how enthusiastic the children were. Thank you John

Rebecca Meade (Bredhurst CE Primary School)

John inspired children across key stage 2 who have continued with their paper engineering and making pop-up books after the visit!

Rachael (Barlby Primary School)

John visited our primary school during the week of world book day. He was very flexible and worked with children from early years to year 5. Having spoken to the children, it is clear that they thoroughly enjoyed John’s workshops involving making pop up books in small groups. They then went back to class and asked to finish them. The finished pop up books really do look incredible and the staff and children have learnt many new skills.

Lisa Ellinson (Gravel Hill Primary School)

John helped celebrate World Book Day in our school by enriching the children with fun pop-up book ideas which the children loved! The children watched his videos beforehand and were very excited to create their own versions. John clearly modelled how to create the pop-up pages and the children couldn't wait to get started. John even catered for the Reception classes by showing his drawing skills and reading his amazing stories. The workshops made reading fun and staff/children loved the fun and engaging workshops.

Jemma Wykes (Springmead Primary School)

John inspired all our children to write & contribute to their group’s pop up story book. His manner is so calm & engaging the children learnt a lot & enjoyed the day.

Sandra Graham (Harlowbury Primary School)

John O'Leary visited our school, we thought he was an illustrator but he was much, much more. His books are really beautiful with wonderful pop-up creations. He calls himself a paper engineer. He is so creative and imaginative. He worked with years 3-6 to create their own pop-up book. The children really enjoyed it and produced some fantastic work. We are now purchasing all of his books if we can as I know some of them are out of print. I would highly recommend other schools work with Mr O'Leary.

Rosmarie Jones (st mary magdalene school)

We enjoyed a very interesting and interactive day with John O'Leary on Friday. We loved seeing some of his books and hearing about how he starts his writing and illustrating process. John worked with each year group -teaching them some of his paper engineering techniques. The children thoroughly enjoyed the day. Thank you John.

Lisa Mccarthy (Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Primary School)

Books by John O'Leary

I've written and illustrated over thirteen books. Here's just a few:

Detective Paws and the Case of the Golden Cat

An interactive, pop-up mystery, featuring the private detective Dick Paws. Help him find the clues, sift through the evidence, nail the suspects and restore the priceless Golden Cat to it's rightful owner, Lady Mogworth of Mogworth Towers. 

The Big Match

As you count down to kick-off, join the fans as they buy match souvenirs, meet the teams, polish your skills, mingle with the managers and play the beautiful game! Includes a super blow-football game. 

Fairytale Colours - Goldilocks

Learn your colours while reading this well-known fairytale! Goldilocks has yellow hair, the bears are brown their cottage is purple, and so on. The pop-ups add to the fun 

Motor mouse

Get Motor Mouse through a series of incredible mazes to reach his surprise destination. All that’s required is a little patience and plenty of brainpower. 

Watch Out in the Jungle!

Six monkeys are playing in the jungle until Leopard is disturbed –and then there are five! Hidden animals are revealed through a shaped hole when the page is turned. The last remaining monkey is reunited with his friends as he gets his sweet revenge. 

Professor Mole's Machines

How does a lift work? What makes a washing machine wash? How does a plane fly or a rocket blast off? Forget everything you’ve been told so far because now Professor Mole is finally prepared to reveal how things really work! 

Pirate Treasure Hunt

Follow Bones the dog and Stripes the cat as they set off in search of pirate gold. Use the map to find the way as you brave shark-invested waters, giant apes in the jungle and a pirate ambush in the lost city. Action-packed, 3-dimensional fun.